What Is Caster Oil Good For?

Castor oil is a colorless, tasteless oil derived from the castor bean. Although it may be best known for its medical uses, it also has a variety of industrial uses.


Castor oil is traditionally used as a laxative. Although it is generally effective and safe for treating constipation, it is not the best medicine. Because it is a traditional medicine, it has not been examined as thoroughly by the Food and Drug Administration as a new medicine would be and, as a result, is considered less safe.

Medicine Additive

Castor oil is added to a variety of medicines ranging from antifungal agents to skin creams as a preservative or for other purposes. For example, it is used in skin creams because it is effective at penetrating the skin, and it is used as a vehicle in some IV injections.

Food Additive

Small amounts of castor oil are sometimes added to food as a preservative. Castor oil can prevent fungal growth.

Industrial Uses

Castor oil has a wide range of industrial uses from adhesives to leather treatments to paints. Castor oil also had an important role as an engine lubricant in early airplanes.


Research is currently being done in Ethiopia to determine whether castor oil can be grown and used as a biofuel.